The number of people aged 75 and above being admitted to hospital with acquired brain injuries is three time the number of those aged 65-74, according to research by the UK Acquired Brain Injury Forum (UKABIF) and healthcare intelligence provider Wilmington Healthcare. 

According to the report, which is based on English Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) data, 40 per cent of hospital admissions in 2014/15 for brain trauma were for patients aged over 75. In total, 8,999 patients aged 75 and older were admitted to hospital during that period - more than three times the admissions in the 65-74 age category (2,659). Many of them had been injured as a result of a fall from standing. 

The spike coincides with a 39 per cent general increase in the number of hospital admissions for traumatic brain injury between 2009/10 and 2014/15. Most of these cases in 2014/15 are caused by falls, including down stairs and steps.   

While the increase could, to some extent, be attributable to improved diagnosis, the report highlights that elderly patients with brain injuries are subjected to delays “in all aspects of their care – in identification, in treatment and in referral”. 

It suggests the earlier involvement of doctors who specialise in caring for elderly patients would help improve outcomes, reduce the time they spend in hospitals, and ultimately save money from the public purse. 

Samantha Hemsley, national head of the serious injury and clinical negligence team at Thompsons Solicitors, said: “Delays in treating patients who have suffered an acquired brain injury are dangerous and unacceptable, whatever their age. Getting swift access to the specialist advice, treatment and rehabilitation is vital to the recovery process and something we treat as a priority for our clients.  

“While the number of reported brain injuries for people aged over 75 may be partly attributable to better diagnosis by healthcare staff, given that falls have been identified as the main cause, action must be taken to try to prevent these kinds of accidents occurring. That includes better mobility assessment and the provision of appropriate support such as walking aids, home care and stair lifts. 

“Having doctors who specialise in elderly health care involved sooner will better identify needs and risks, as well as ease access to health and social services for the most vulnerable. Providing better training for specialists in elderly trauma would help reduce incidents and ultimately ease the burden on an already over-stretched NHS.”